Climate Crisis and the 2020 U.S. Elections

TRANSCEND MEMBERS, 17 Jun 2019

John Scales Avery – TRANSCEND Media Service

Trump and His Party Must Be Defeated

13 Jun 2019 – There are so many things wrong with Donald Trump that one hardly knows where to begin. He is a racist, habitual liar, tax evader, cruel cager of infants, misogynist, narcissist, bully, violator of numerous laws, both national and international, a friend of rich oligarchs and enemy of the poor, to mention only a few of his faults. He has made the United States resemble Germany, Italy or Spain in the 1930’s, when fascism was on the rise.

However, most importantly for the future of human civilization and the biosphere, Trump has denied the reality of the climate emergency, encouraged the use of coal as well as exploration for new oil, sabotaged the Environmental Protection Agency, and withdrew the United States from the Paris Agreement. Because of the climate issue alone, it is vital for the future of humanity that he and his party should be defeated in the 2020 elections.

The Importance of Immediate Climate Action

The central problem which the world faces in its attempts to avoid catastrophic climate change is a contrast of time scales. In order to save human civilization and the biosphere from the most disastrous effects of climate change we need to act immediately. But it is difficult to mobilize public opinion behind urgently needed action because the most severe disasters due to global warming belong to the long-term future.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, in their October 2018 report, stated that global CO2 emissions must be reduced by 50% in just 12 years if the worst effects of climate change are to be avoided.

What Happened in the Disastrous 2016 Election?

One is reminded of the words of Yeats: “Things fall apart. The centre cannot hold. The best lack all conviction, while the worst are filled with passionate intensity. And what rough beast, its time come round at last, slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?”

When Senator Bernie Sanders began his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, few people believed that he could succeed. But as his campaign gained momentum, enormous crowds were attracted to his reformist speeches, and small individual donors supported his expenses. Although the crowds at Sanders’ speeches were at least four times the size of those attending the rallies of other candidates, they were not reported in the mass media. Sanders’ campaign was also sabotaged by the corporate-controlled Democratic National Committee. His huge popularity remains undimmed today, despite his loss in the 2016 primary. He advocates a social system for the United States similar to these which have made the Scandinavian countries leaders in both human development and human happiness indices.

Against expectations, Donald Trump who, in the words of Michael Moore, is a “wretched, ignorant, dangerous part-time clown and full-time sociopath”, was elected in 2016. What happened? Disillusioned by the way in which the immensely popular Senator Bernie Sanders was sabotaged by the media and by the Democratic National Committee, and despising Hillary Clinton for her involvement in US wars and Wall Street banks, many progressive voters, especially young ones, stayed away from the polls. In their absence, Trump won narrowly. He lost the popular vote, but won the electoral vote. Today, the White House is a morass of dissension, erratic decisions and lies.

Part of the blame for what happened must fall on the cynicism and greed of the mass media, for example the CBS executive who gave Trump’s outrageous statements enormous amounts of free air time, and who said: “Donald Trump is bad for the country, but he’s good for CBS”.

Figure 1: Disillusioned progressive voters who stayed at home were responsible for Trump’s victory.

The Democrats Must Not Repeat the Mistakes They Made in 2016!

The Democrats can win in 2020 if they learn from the mistakes that their leaders made in 2016. They must not repeat these mistakes, but currently they seem to be doing so. Joe Biden is a candidate who is closely analogous to Hillary Clinton. He is tainted by associations with Wall Street, the fossil fuel industry, and he has blood from US wars n his hands. By supporting Biden, rather than progressive candidates such as Warren or Sanders, the “center-seeking” Democratic National Committee is making the same mistake that they made in 2016. They risk the same outcome: Offended and disillusioned progressive voters may stay home from the polls.

To win in 2020, the Democratic Party must be clearly progressive. They must support progressive presidential candidates; and they must strongly support rapid climate action and the Green New Deal.

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John Scales Avery, Ph.D., who was part of a group that shared the 1995 Nobel Peace Prize for their work in organizing the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs, is a member of the TRANSCEND Network and Associate Professor Emeritus at the H.C. Ørsted Institute, University of Copenhagen, Denmark. He is chairman of both the Danish National Pugwash Group and the Danish Peace Academy and received his training in theoretical physics and theoretical chemistry at M.I.T., the University of Chicago and the University of London. He is the author of numerous books and articles both on scientific topics and on broader social questions. His most recent books are Information Theory and Evolution and Civilization’s Crisis in the 21st Century (pdf).


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This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 17 Jun 2019.

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